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Undocumented immigrants push bill to get behind the wheel

March 14, 2019 11:26 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) -- Undocumented immigrants may soon be able to get a driver's license in New York state. 

The Driver's License Access and Privacy Act would allow immigrants to obtain a driver's license using their country's native passport as identification.

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The measure wouldn't be new to NYS.

Before the 9/11 attacks, immigrants regardless of status were able to get a driver's license. After the attacks, national security eliminated the opportunity. 

"We come to contribute. We give our lives for our work and all we ask is to be respected," said Luis Jimenez. Jimenez is an undocumented dairy farm worker in Livingston County. 

Jmenez says a driver's license would change his family's life. 

"Quality of life would increase and I'd lose the fear of going out freely in the streets," explained Jimenez. 

This week, hundreds rallied with the New York Immigration Coalition in Albany, urging lawmakers to pass the bill ahead of the budget deadline.

"A standard license is what we're advocating people have so it won't be used for getting on a plane, it won't register people to vote, it's just for driving purposes," explained Meghan Maloney De Zaldivar, NYIC's WNY Manager of Member Engagement. 

A new bill reinstating the privilege surfaced in 2007 but stalled from Republican resistance. 

Senator Patrick Gallivan tells News10NBC he only draws the line on immigrants here illegally. 

However, those that are contracted under work programs, he supports driving.

This bill includes everyone. 

"They include everybody whether they're here legally or illegally," explained Senator Gallivan. "I just don't know they should be entitled to the same privileges as the rest of our citizens and in those, the workers who come up in the summer in a legal way,"

There are 725,000 undocumented immigrants in New York and roughly 4,000 in the Rochester metropolitan area, according to the NYIC.

The coalition tells News10NBC they estimate about half would apply for licenses.

If the law passes, insurance and registration fees, along with taxes, would bring in an estimated $57 million in annual state and local revenues. 

Gov. Cuomo has expressed support for the bill in the past.

His administration says when it reaches his desk, he plans on signing it into law. 

Credits

Beth Cefalu

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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